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California's 10 best hiking trails
Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions due to COVID-19 or the California wildfires before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Rubicon Trail A hugely scenic trail on Lake Tahoe's western shore. It ribbons along the lakeshore for 4.5 mostly gentle miles from Vikingsholm Castle (add a mile for the downhill walk to the castle from Hwy 89) in Emerald Bay State Park, then leads past small coves perfect for taking a cooling dip, and treats you to great views along the way. Add an extra mile to loop around and visit the restored historic lighthouse, a square wood-enclosed beacon (that looks a lot like an outhouse) constructed by the Coast Guard in 1916. Poised above 6800ft, it’s the USA’s highest-elevation lighthouse. Mist Fall Hike This very enjoyable 8-mile, round-trip walk along the riverside, up a natural granite staircase and finishing at the falls, which (when the wind is right) blows refreshing water droplets at hikers on arrival, highlights the beauty of Kings Canyon. The first 2 miles are fairly exposed, so start early to avoid the midday heat on the 700ft ascent. Continuing past Mist Falls, the trail eventually connects with the John Muir/Pacific Crest Trail to form the 42-mile Rae Lakes Loop, the most popular long-distance hike in Kings Canyon National Park (a wilderness permit is required). The Coastal Trail in San Francisco is a beautiful 4-mile hike © Chris LaBasco / Getty Images / iStockphoto Coastal Trail Hit your stride on this 10.5-mile stretch, starting at Fort Funston, crossing 4 miles of sandy Ocean Beach and wrapping around the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge. Casual strollers can pick up the restored trail near Sutro Baths and head around the Lands End bluffs for end-of-the-world views and glimpses of shipwrecks at low tide. At Lincoln Park, duck into the Legion of Honor or descend the gloriously tiled Lincoln Park Steps (near 32nd Ave). High Sierra Trail A contender for the best trail in Sequoia National Park – it's definitely on many world's best hike lists – the High Sierra trail begins at Crescent Meadow and continues for 49 miles. From 6700ft it climbs to an altitude of 10,700ft, crossing ridges, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and offering the most jaw-dropping mountain and valley views. It also connects to junctions for the famous John Muir Trail. If you can only make one stop in Tuolumne, visit Cathedral Lake © AdonisVillanueva / Getty Images Cathedral Lakes If you can only manage one hike in Tuolumne, this should probably be it. Cathedral Lake (9588ft), the lower of the two Cathedral Lakes, sits within a mind-blowing glacial cirque, a perfect amphitheater of granite capped by the iconic spire of nearby Cathedral Peak (10,911ft). From the lake’s southwestern side, the granite drops steeply away, affording views as far as Tenaya Lake, whose blue waters shimmer in the distance. Parking for the Cathedral Lake Trailhead is along the shoulder of Tioga Rd. Due to the popularity of this hike, parking spaces fill up fast, so arrive early or take the free shuttle. Santa Monica Mountains A haven for hikers, trekkers and mountain bikers, the northwestern-most stretch of the Santa Monica Mountains is where nature gets bigger and wilder, with jaw-dropping red-rock canyons, and granite outcrops with sublime sea views. The best trails are in Pacific Palisades, Topanga and Malibu. The Backbone Trail is the longest trail in the range, linking – and accessible from – every state park. It’s 67 miles all told, running from Will Rogers to Point Mugu State Park, and can be completed in a few days. Take in all the coastal views at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve © Debbie Allen Powell / Getty Images Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Walkers and hikers explore eight miles of hillside sandy trails in a wilderness oasis of 2000 acres. Choose from routes of varying difficulties in this well-trodden coastal state park in La Jolla. The 0.7-mile Guy Fleming Trail (currently closed due to COVID-19) has panoramic sea views and paths through wildflowers, ferns and cacti. Meanwhile, the 1.4-mile Razor Point Trail (currently closed due to COVID-19) offers a good whale-spotting lookout during winter months. Flora and fauna is abundant in this protected area. During quieter times, with fewer stomping feet, quiet walkers may spot raccoons, rabbits, bobcats, skunks and foxes among plenty of other types of wildlife. You'll have to pay for parking. Tahquitz Canyon Considered historic and sacred by the Agua Caliente people, this gorgeous canyon, located in the Greater Palm Springs, can be explored via a fairly steep and rocky 1.8-mile (round-trip) hike culminating at a 60ft waterfall. An interpretive trail guide that's available at the visitor center points out rock art, viewpoints and native plant life. The center also has natural- and cultural-history exhibits and screenings of The Legend of Tahquitz video about an evil Cahuilla shaman. Bring a picnic, water and be sure to wear sturdy footwear. If you don't want to head out on your own, join a ranger-led 2½-hour hike departing four times daily (once daily July to September) from the visitor center. Don't let the name fool you, the Boy Scout Trail is a tough 8-mile one-way route © NatalieJean / Shutterstock Boy Scout Trail For an immersion into Joshua Tree flora and topography, embark on this tough 8-mile one-way trail cutting through canyons, washes and mountains along the western edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. Most hikers prefer to launch from Park Blvd near the Quail Springs picnic area and head north to Indian Cove. Arrange for pick-up at the other end or plan on camping overnight. Part of the trail is unmarked and hard to follow. Rings Loop Trail This fun 1.5-mile trail delivers close-ups of the Swiss-cheese-like cliffs of the Hole-in-the-Wall area at the Mojave National Preserve. Starting at the south end of the parking lot, it passes petroglyphs before entering an increasingly narrow canyon that you have to scramble out of using metal rings. You'll emerge at a picnic area and follow a paved road back to the parking lot. For a shorter experience (0.5 miles), use the rings to descend straight into the canyon and climb back out the same way. This piece orginally appeared on our sister site, Lonely Planet.
How to Explore Your Family Roots Through Travel
While taking an at-home DNA test can offer a guide to your genetic makeup, planning a trip can bring you closer to your lineage. Some DNA research companies have gone a step further through teaming up with travel businesses to provide resources for planning a trip. In May 2019, Airbnb and 23andMe announced their partnership in providing bookings for experiences and accommodations based on customers’ test results and tied to their ancestry destination. In 2017, Ancestry and EF Go Ahead Tours jointly launched a portfolio of heritage-centered tours in Ireland, Italy and Germany. If you want to plan a trip on your own, there are some measures to keep in mind while getting excited about what you might find. Here are some tips provided by genealogy and travel experts on how to map out your trip. Start by Building a Family Tree “The first thing I recommend is for everyone to start their own family tree,” said Jennifer Utley, director of research at Ancestry. “Call relatives who know your family history; add their experience.” Also get your children involved in trip planning. “They also can give a different perspective; they may come up with places you didn’t think of.” Know What You Want to Do Another initial step in planning is to understand what kind of trip you want to pursue – is about the destination itself or directly your family? “A heritage trip is about seeing the sites, experiencing the culture and walking in the footsteps of your family in a broad way,” said Cara MacDonald, reference services manager at the Scotiabank Family History Centre at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Whereas, a research trip is to find out more detail about your family during their time in that area, which usually involves visits to archives, museums and genealogical societies.” Reach Out to Tourism Boards Mickela Mallozzi, host and executive producer of “Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi,” whose third season of her TV series used her DNA map to bring her to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, recommends reaching out to a country or region’s tourism boards as a resource. “It is the DMO’s job to promote their own destination, and usually these people are very proud of their country or region,” she said. Make Appointments With visiting archive centers or government offices, learn ahead of time what your accessibility to their records and reference materials might be, in the case they may take some time for being pulled up, or there are required payments for getting copies or other services. “You almost always have to have an appointment and you have to order the files or boxes in advance,” said New York genealogist Terry Koch-Bostic. “If it’s a book from the shelf, it’s usually not a problem, but if you want to look at documents or manuscripts, then you usually order them in advance.” Check Hours of Operation Maybe you went to a center on a Friday and found out that they’re open the four days prior only or closed at certain times or for private functions. “Always make sure you check hours of operation, especially if you are traveling in the off season,” said MacDonald. “Genealogy societies may be staffed by volunteers and only be open on specific days.” Go Beyond Google While search engines are right at your fingertips, and Facebook groups on geological research, do some local digging into your past. Ancestry’s Utley noted that historical societies throughout the U.S. can provide information on the background of a region or even chapters of ethnic groups with a prominent presence such as Italian, German or Irish. Other go-to sources can include the newspapers of the day, census, country or municipal records, city directories (a pre-cursor to phone books), and records from courts, churches, cemeteries and military museums and other venues. Get Extra Help Kudos to you for pursuing your family’s history on your own but don’t hesitate if you need some guidance with your research. Travel expert Charles McCool, who has conducted family research trips to Ireland, advises connecting with a contact within your destination of family origin before the trip for help. “Hire that person to walk you through the bureaucratic maze, like requesting vital records, accessing archives and so on.” Koch-Bostic also recommends hiring a travel agent for bookings or a genealogist for extended research or a guide for showing you around. Embrace Your Surroundings Along with seeing places connected to the past, Valarie D’Elia, a video travel journalist specializing in ancestral travel programming, recommends building your itinerary around local agendas such as going during a coinciding event and partaking in cultural, religious and traditional activities. “Most importantly, add context to these events,” said D’Elia. “How do they relate to your family history?” Also, D’Elia notes to include side trips outside of the city, village or town you’re visiting. Get Engrossed in Culture Gina Paige, president and co-founder of African Ancestry, noted that culture can be a key part of heritage travel. With those of African American ancestry, U.S. cities can be sources for information such Baltimore’s ties to the Underground Railroad specific institutions such as National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Local communities, too, can help. Paige pointed out that African Americans who trace their roots to the Tikar in Cameroon can find significant communities within the U.S. – such as in NYC, Houston and D.C. “They tend to have networks within those organizations already, so when they are ready to travel, they use those people as a resource,” said Paige. Put Your Family in a Historical Context If you’re finding road blocks with your research, look at your background from a historical perspective. For example, Allison DePrey Singleton, a librarian at the Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., noted that those of Irish decent can learn about the vast impact of the Irish potato famine, which led to many Irish leaving their homeland or perishing from hunger. “It’s about putting your family in a historical context; learn about what was going on in that country and that location within a certain time period.” Manage Your Expectations DNA trips can bring up all sorts of emotions, but you want to stay receptive in the moment and around others. “Be respectful of the culture and realize that [your] accommodations can be rudimentary,” said D’Elia, “Be mindful you are visiting ancient places and ancient infrastructure; pack proper footwear. These trips attract multiple generations, so be sure to accommodate specific mobility issues."
Locals Know Best: Portland, Maine
When Ed Suslovic moved to Portland, Maine, in 1992, it was like he’d died and gone to heaven, he says. Coming from Washington DC, this beautiful, relaxed urban enclave along the ocean was a jolting culture shock—the best possible kind. He fell so deeply in love with the city that he devoted his life to it, serving as city counselor, mayor, and state legislator. Today he teaches at the Muskie School of Public Service at University of Southern Maine in Portland and remains a committed citizen and, by default, ambassador. We checked in with him and got the lowdown of how to make the best of a visit to this gem of a seaside city. Eat—and Drink—Your Heart Out Regardless of whether you leap out of bed before sunrise to start the day or peel yourself out from under the covers later in the morning, every day in Portland should begin with a meal at Becky’s Diner. (“Nothing’s finer than Becky’s Diner,” Ed insists.) Becky’s is the kind of place where, on any given morning, you could sit at the counter and turn to your right and start a conversation with a lobsterman or dockworker, then turn to your left and gab with a federal judge. Becky’s captures Portland’s everything-for-everyone, open spirit. The food is as notable as the vibe. Breakfasts dishes never fail here, especially if any sort of eggs doused with Captain Mowatt’s, the local hot sauce named for a famous sea captain. If you like it, pick up a bottle to bring home at Leroux, a kitchen and home goods shop just down the street. And the homemade pies and cakes are simply “to die for,” Ed guarantees. New England charm is alive and well at cozy family-run restaurants throughout Portland. Take, for instance, Susan's Fish-n-Chips. "It looks like it's in an old gas station, but don't be put off by that. Oh my god--it's the best fried fish ever, just light and crispy. You sit down with other folks at picnic tables and next thing you know you'll be sharing tartar sauce with them." Or Anthony's Italian Kitchen, which has such a discreet location next to the city's court house and police stations that you wouldn't know it was there if you weren't looking for it. Ed has a list of reasons to love it: homemade everything, huge servings/guaranteed leftovers, and the show. More than just run a restaurant, the family, led by patriarch Anthony, who Ed estimates is nearing 80, puts on a cabaret show each night, so they serve up one-liners and songs along with dinner. Ruski’s is another casual local that is, in no uncertain terms, an institution. (“It's been there forever. And some of the people at the bar have been there forever, too,” he quips.) Ed hung out there plenty before he got into politics, but once he did start running for office, Ruskie’s is where he’d mingle with the locals. It’s a standard come-as-you-are dive bar, with night-shift workers washing down home-fries with PBR at 9AM and countless regulars stopping in for Allen’s Coffee-flavored brandy and milk over ice, a traditional tipple in the region, at all hours. Across the intersection from this old-school stronghold is Little Giant, a gastropub with a grocery shop that Ed describes as an “upscale take on the corner store.” Owners Brianna and Andrew Volk also run Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, a cocktail bar that’s made a splash on the national drinks scene. Ed views the juxtaposition of Ruski’s and Little Giant as an illustration of what’s great about Portland today: the old and the new coexisting in harmony. “They couldn’t be more different and I love them both,” Ed says. A Small Neighborhood, a Big Impression Once upon a time, it was easy to pass through Woodfords Corner and barely notice it. But in recent years—including some under Ed’s mayoral watch, the city worked to change that. A turning lane was removed and a small pedestrian plaza was installed in its place. There’s a light sculpture and other small pieces of public art. Now, not only is it more pedestrian-friendly, it’s actually attracted businesses to addresses that once housed pawn shops or tattoo parlors and made Woodfords Corner a destination. You can always find your way there if you look for the iconic clock tower of Odd Fellow’s Hall, an old fraternal lodge visible from a distance. Right next door is Woodford Food & Beverage, a French bistro-style eatery that Ed describes as a casual neighborhood hangout, but you don’t have to be a neighbor to feel like one. “You’ll go in there and pretty soon people are inviting you to join them at a table for dinner,” Ed says. The restaurant was the original location of Valle’s, a famous chain that started in the 1950s. A nostalgic retro-tinged style gives the Woodford F&B its a charming old-timey vibe. Nearby is Big Sky Bakery, located in a fire station, making this another business that’s made the most of one of the street’s beautiful old abandoned spaces. Like any bakery worth its weight in chocolate chip cookies, Big Sky is popular with kids, but not just because of the sweets. On any given day, you’ll spot pint-size patrons crowded around a small table playing with dough the bakers put out for them. Break for Art The Art of the Matter. About six blocks from Woodfords Corner is Deering Center which, locals will tell you, used to be its own town. Today it’s merely a neighborhood, but one that offers quite an impressive array of things to check out given its small size. As Ed tells it, Deering Corner’s claim to fame is its main thoroughfare, Stevens Avenue, ostensibly the only street in the U.S. where you can go from kindergarten to college without leaving the drag. There’s an elementary school, a high school and one side of the University of New England’s main campus. UNE in particular is worth a visit because of the University of New England Art Gallery, a small outpost with frequently rotating roster of shows, many by young artists, and what Ed describes as a very interesting and interested staff, so go by and say hi. Day Tripper Much as he loves everything about Portland, Ed has all sorts of recommendations for things to do and see and eat outside the city limits, most of which you can do in a single day. His relaxing itinerary for what he considers an “ideal Maine summer day” starts with picking up coffee and donuts in town at one of the two donut shops in town and heading north about an hour up Route 1 to Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg. “I love it because it’s the biggest, most expansive beach in Maine, and at low tide, it just becomes immense,” he says, noting that you can get out of your car and walk over the dunes and still not be able to see the ocean because it’s so far away. Climb the sandbar and check out an old stone Colonial-era fort just around the bend. That’s just one of the many jaw-dropping visions to behold. Islands and lighthouses dot the oceanscape for miles. Nearby you have your choice of low-key lobster joints, but you’ll want to save your appetite for your trip home because a stop in Brunswick for a classic American meal at Fat Boy’s Drive-In is a must. “After a long day, you’re all sandy and salty and sunburned .” To hear Ed tell it, you pull up, put your headlights on, give the waitress your order, and she’ll bring your burgers (Ed deems them “phenomenal”), onion rings, frappes, and the rest to your car and you eat it there. It’s a piece of history, he says, but warns that after generations, it’s presently on for sale. Legions of loyal fans are hoping that the new owners carry out its legacy. Especially Ed.
Arizona the Way It Was
The heat is like a slap in the face. When my husband and I left the East Coast it was 40 degrees and raining; here in Tucson the temperature is above 90, even though it's late October. Not that Jason and I are complaining. The rental car has A/C and we haven't seen the sun in weeks. The southeast corner of Arizona is a land of extremes: mountains that top 9,000 feet and are covered in Douglas firs; dry, dusty basins that sprout cacti and seemingly little else. The flavor is a wild mix of the Old West and Old Mexico--from the architecture (wooden ranch houses and adobe casitas) to the food (mesquite-grilled steak and carne asada). Toss in quirky attractions and a 75 mph speed limit and you have a road-tripper's nirvana. Day one: Tucson Even though it's Arizona's second-largest city (after Phoenix), Tucson doesn't feel all that big. With a few exceptions, the things you'll want to see are concentrated in and around downtown. We land mid-morning and head straight to Mission San Xavier del Bac. Completed in 1797 and still the center of a functioning Roman Catholic parish, the enormous adobe church can be seen for miles around. Its blinding exterior leaves no mystery as to why it's called the White Dove of the Desert. Upon entering, I'm struck by the serenity: Worshipers and tourists stand in quiet awe, marveling at the colorful murals and statues that adorn each wall, all recently restored to their original beauty. Back in the car, we head to Pico de Gallo, a little taquería in South Tucson. It isn't much to look at, but the soft corn tortillas are amazing. The namesake dish isn't what you'd expect--instead of watery salsa, you get spears of mango, pineapple, coconut, and jicama served in a Dixie cup and topped with red chili powder and salt. It sounds odd but tastes heavenly. Nearby in the Barrio Histórico is El Tiradito, a small wishing shrine dating from the 1870s. The ground around it is littered with colorful candles--evidence of the hundreds of prayers offered here in recent weeks. This remnant of the late 19th century stands in stark contrast to the modern convention center a block away. Downtown Tucson is a warren of one-way streets; you'll want a good map. We circle the Hotel Congress a few times before figuring out there's parking in back. Built in 1919, the hotel served as a high-class rest stop for ranchers and mining tycoons, maintaining its genteel reputation until John Dillinger and his gang rolled into town. They were holed up here in 1934 when a fire broke out. Firefighters recognized Dillinger, and he was captured nearby. The rooms haven't changed much since. They're small, a bit ragged, and the door hits the toilet as you enter the bathroom. But they have character, with vintage beds and rotary phones. Ask for a room far from the popular nightclub or you'll feel the booming music until 1 a.m. No matter where your room is, you'll hear the cargo trains. I found the noise soothing; you might not. From the hotel it's a short walk to the 4th Avenue shopping district. There are enough thrift stores and import shops to keep you busy for hours. Don't dally too long. Up in the foothills of the Santa Catalinas is the late Ettore "Ted" De Grazia's Gallery in the Sun. Best known for his paintings of children and landscapes, De Grazia created a unique space to show his work: The adobe gallery is decorated with colorful murals, brightly painted tin flowers, and a cholla cactus walkway. We head over to the El Presidio Historic District for dinner at the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the country, El Charro Café. We come for the famouscarne secaplate and aren't disappointed. The beef is perfectly spiced with lime, garlic, and green chilies, and dried outdoors for several days. Shredded and served with fresh tortillas, it's unlike anything I've ever tasted. Except maybe beef jerky, but thecarne secais much better. Day one Lodging Hotel Congress311 E. Congress St., 520/622-8848, hotelcongress.com/, double $39-$72 Food Taquería Pico de Gallo2618 S. 6th Ave., 520/623-8775, taco $1.25 El Charro Café311 N. Court Ave., 520/622-1922, carne seca $11.95 Mission San Xavier del Bac1950 W. San Xavier Blvd., 520/294-2624, donations welcome Gallery in the Sun6300 N. Swan Rd., 800/545-2185, free Day two As you drive southeast on I-10, the ubiquitous saguaros and mesquite give way to willowy cottonwoods--you're crossing the San Pedro River. After so many miles of highway, the Ghost Town Trail comes as a shock. This unpaved road from Pearce to Tombstone is quite rutted in places and so isolated that you'll be tempted to turn back. Stick with it and you'll pass through remnants of once-booming copper-mining villages. The best reason to take this route: John & Sandy's Rattlesnake Crafts. John and Sandy Weber are self-described rattlesnake hunters whose wallets and jewelry are on display in an old trailer. The shop is self-serve--if you find something you like (and I defy you not to), drop some money in the mailbox outside. Compared with the real ghost towns of Courtland and Gleeson, Tombstone is a circus. Packed with tourists and people dressed in period costume, the Town Too Tough to Die is worth only a quick visit. Stop by Boothill Graveyard to see the famous grave markers, then stroll Allen Street and have lunch at the Longhorn Restaurant. The Mule Mountain Pass into Bisbee is vertiginous--it's a mile above sea level and the highway twists and turns--but the view is spectacular. The town is nestled in a canyon, with clapboard houses stacked on top of one another; it looks as though one good rain will wash all the buildings away. Now a magnet for artists and retirees, Bisbee was once the heart of copper mining in the area, producing nearly 3 million ounces of gold and 8 billion pounds of copper. At the turn of the century, it was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. See proof at the Mining & Historical Museum. Explore the mine as the miners did--with a hard hat and lantern--on the one-hour underground tour of the Queen Mine. Claustrophobes will prefer to peer into the giant crater that is the Lavender Open Pit instead.Pick up an illustrated map at the visitor center on Subway Street and look for signs of the town's rough-and-tumble history. They're everywhere, from the big houses on Quality Hill (where the bankers and lawyers lived) to the saloons in Brewery Gulch (once home to gamblers and prostitutes). The center of town is now full of art galleries and boutiques, but the facades still scream Old West.We decide to try the new Harlequin Restaurant at the bottom of Brewery Gulch. Chef and co-owner Scott Edelen has turned what was once the town pharmacy into a first-class restaurant. The menu is small--two entrées--but it changes nightly and incorporates fresh local ingredients. Jason swears the steak is the best he's eaten (it's blackened and served with a red-curry coconut-cream sauce).As we make our way downhill, the car turns into a time machine, hurtling us from the early 1900s to the 1950s. Welcome to the Shady Dell. Alongside its regular RV hookups, the Shady Dell rents out eight meticulously restored aluminum trailers as rooms. We chose the granddaddy, a 1951 Spartan Royal Mansion. I can't take it all in fast enough: the lustrous blond-wood interior with leopard-print carpeting; the Frigidaire in the kitchen, along with vintage martini glasses; the phonograph and 78 rpm records ranging from doo-wop to polka. After I squeal, "Oh my God, look at this!" for the hundredth time, we settle onto the couch to watch the grainy black-and-white Setchell-Carlson TV. It's hooked up to a hidden VCR, with a dozen films to choose from. We stay up late watching Rawhide and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Day two Lodging Shady Dell 1 Douglas Rd., 520/432-3567, theshadydell.com, $35-$75 Food Longhorn Restaurant 501 E. Allen St., 520/457-3405, burger $6 Harlequin Restaurant 1 Howell Ave., 520/432-1832, entrée $16.95 Attractions Queen Mine Tours off Hwy. 80, 866/432-2071, $13 Bisbee Mining Museum Copper Queen Plaza, 520/432-7071, $4 John & Sandy's Rattlesnake Crafts Gleeson Rd., 520/642-9207 Day three We're off after a late breakfast at Dot's Diner--a 1957, 10-stool wonder, itself worth a trip to the Shady Dell. By late morning we're in Patagonia, another boom-and-bust mining town that has found new life as a mecca for tourists and weekenders from Tucson. The Nature Conservancy's Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve has over two miles of trail paralleling Sonoita Creek. It's a nice, flat walk under a canopy of trees--a bird-watcher's paradise. More than 300 species have been identified here. Lunch is at Velvet Elvis: incredible homemade soups, large gourmet pizzas with names like "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly," and limonada rosa, lemonade flavored with hibiscus and lime. Past Nogales is the village of Tubac, Arizona's oldest European settlement, dating from 1752. The Spanish built a presidio here that's now a state historic park, but most people come for the art galleries and pottery shops.We're lucky enough to have our own guide--Bill Spater, a family friend who has lived in the area for years. After a driving tour of Nogales's Crawford Street Historic District--on a hill above town, with old mansions and an extraordinary view of the spotlit wall separating the U.S. from Mexico--we "walk across the line." (The border is so porous here that people cross back and forth daily: Arizonans and tourists head over to Sonora for dinner; Mexicans visit Arizona to shop at Wal-Mart.) It's another world: narrow streets lined with shops and bars, people everywhere. We head down a small side street to Regis, Bill's favorite watering hole. It's packed with locals watching TV. A waiter quickly finds us a place to sit down, adding chairs to a table already occupied by two men. One of them asks me in Spanish who I'm rooting for. They're watching Game Six of the World Series--and Jason and I, lifelong Yankees fans, are surrounded by rowdy Marlins fans. We have dinner at La Roca, or "The Rock"--a beautiful restaurant literally built into the side of a cliff above town. A mariachi band serenades us with "Guantanamera" as we dig into an enormous platter of grilled shrimp, spiced beef, and roasted chilies. Day four: Tubac to Tucson Tumacácori is about three miles south of Tubac. A national historical park surrounds the ruins of a Jesuit frontier church built in 1757. It's only a short drive back to Tucson, and as we try to figure out exactly how far we are from the airport, we realize that I-19 is signed in metric. Another Arizona quirk to end a memorable trip through the Old West. Days three and four Lodging Country Inn 13 Burruel St., 520/398-3178, tubaccountryinn.com, double $85-$155 Secret Garden Inn 13 Placita de Anza, 520/398-9371, tubacaz.com/secretgarden, double $95-$105 Food Dot's Diner Shady Dell, 520/432-5885, breakfast $4.20 Velvet Elvis 292 Naugle Ave., 520/394-2102, pizza $17.99 Regis Calle Juárez 34, 011-52/631-31-25181, margarita $1 La Roca Restaurant & Bar Calle Elias 91, 011-52/631-31-20891, entrée $8 Attractions Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve nature.org/ for directions, admission $5 Tubac Presidio State Historic Park off Tubac Rd., 520/398-2252, admission $3 Tumacácori National Historical Park exit 29 off I-19, 520/398-2341, admission $3
'We Love New Things, the Weirder the Better'
At first glance, the Reazers seem like an average family. Ed and Laura have three kids (Ben, 16; Emily, 13; and Elizabeth, 10) and live in Cleona, a small town in rural Pennsylvania. They're big fans of the ocean, and many of their top vacation memories involve water--snorkeling in Kauai, whale watching in Maine, island-hopping in the Florida Keys. As we quickly learned while planning the family's trip to the West Coast, however, the Reazers are far from conventional, and proud of it. "We're an odd, motley bunch," Laura told us. "I've never seen people like us in your magazine, or any magazine really." Ever since Laura realized it would take Ben an hour on the bus to get to kindergarten, all the Reazer children have been homeschooled. Laura supplements at-home learning with trips to museums and historic sites. The children also do volunteer work, sending gift bags to kids with cancer. The girls both love animals; Emily even mucks stalls at a horse farm in exchange for riding lessons. And then there's Ben, who provided the excuse for the trip. Ben has long hair, dresses all in black, and is really into music--The Doors, Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, you name it. He plays his guitar at every opportunity, even sitting in regularly with a group of middle-aged guys strumming bluegrass. Ben's interested in attending the University of California at Berkeley next year. With three weeks free in September, the Reazers will fly into Seattle and drive down the coast, visiting the Cal campus along the way, before catching a flight home from San Diego. (One of the advantages of homeschooling is that families don't have to take vacations in the summer, convenient considering the Reazers hate crowds.) They asked us to help plan the trip, taking into account they didn't want theme parks or other tourist standards. "We'd like to try alternative accommodations: yurts, hostels, and so forth," Laura wrote to us. "They sound so cool, and we are trying to keep costs low." One interest shared by the whole family is food. "We all love eating and trying new things, the weirder the better," said Laura. Seattle's Pike Place Market, while not exactly undiscovered, is where out-of-towners and neighborhood regulars buy fresh fish, flowers, and fruit. Rainier cherries, a sweet local variety, make a great walking snack. For lodging, we recommended the Ace Hotel, just north of downtown. Most hotels charge extra for a hip look, but the spare, elegant rooms at the Ace are affordable for Seattle (under $200 a night for two rooms). "My son wants to see Jimi Hendrix's grave," said Laura. Hendrix, born and raised in Seattle, is buried southeast of the city in Renton, where music lovers leave flowers or personal notes (jimihendrixmemorial.com). Seattle's Experience Music Project, a huge museum founded by Microsoft guru (and Hendrix fan) Paul Allen, is probably worth a visit. Inside are costumes and instruments used by rock legends, and in September they're showing concert footage of Hendrix every hour. Self-described "beach freaks," the Reazers' next stop is three hours' south of Seattle at Cape Disappointment State Park. The waters are always rough and cold, but the dramatic cliffs make for wonderful scenery. Emily gets excited about puppies, much less wild animals, so she should enjoy spotting seals and whales. The park rents cabins and yurts for $40 a night. Another three hours in the car brings the family to Portland, Ore., a town we obviously like (see p.88). One place not mentioned in that story is Edgefield. Just outside the city, it's a 200-year-old farm that's been converted into a movie theater, restaurant, golf course, and hotel. Elizabeth and Emily are looking forward to collecting sand dollars, the flat shells of the spiny sea creatures called echinoids. They'll be able to find them, as well as seals and sea otters, at Cape Lookout State Park, due west of Portland. From there, the Reazers have a choice: Stick to the coast all the way to California or head inland for some of Oregon's mountains, lakes, and trees. We recommended heading east from Florence to Eugene, a college town in tune with Berkeley's hippie past, continuing into the pristine Cascade mountains. Near the state border is an unusual overnight experience: the Out'N'About Treehouse Treesort rents cabins built into the trees. In California, the Reazers' first stop is in Crescent City at the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, where they'll learn how injured seals, dolphins, and whales are nurtured back to health. Afterward, Ed Reazer's one request--seeing some giant California redwoods--will be addressed. South of Crescent City are the 300-foot-tall trees of Redwood National Park, where there's a hostel with ocean views. Down the coast is Arcata, a town whose counterculture roots are still very much apparent. We suggested the Saturday-morning farmers market, if the timing works. The tie-dyed locals make for great people watching, and there's plenty of organic produce to sample. The Reazers should keep an eye out for farmers selling peppers in every imaginable color, shape, and degree of spiciness. Also worth a look is the historic Samoa Cookhouse, an all-you-can-eat restaurant that used to feed loggers in the area. For lodging in San Francisco, we suggested trying a lowball bid at Priceline (using biddingfortravel.com as a guide) or booking a couple of private rooms at Hostelling International at Fisherman's Wharf. The hostel is in a national park, offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and includes free breakfast. Highlights in the city include driving up and down the crazy hills, mingling with the punks in the Haight-Ashbury district, and heading to the Mission District to chow on burritos at Taquería Cancún or chicken shawerma from Truly Mediterranean. To get Ben in the right mood before his campus visit, we told him to tune into KALX 90.7, the student station that plays new bands, forgotten gems, and genuine oddities. Cal gives tours of the campus seven days a week, but it might be more important to scope out the nearby coffeehouses, shops, and hangouts on Telegraph Avenue. We're sure Ben could spend several hours at Amoeba Music, which overflows with vinyl LPs. Next we recommended a leisurely drive down the coast, with great photo ops at Big Sur's dramatic cliffs, and perhaps a night or two in the Santa Barbara area at Rancho Oso, which rents covered wagons with army cots. Eventually the Reazers will wind up in Los Angeles to hit Venice Beach, with its circus of skateboarders, jugglers on roller skates, break-dancers, and weight lifters. They should grab a sausage sandwich at Jody Maroni's, home of the "haut dog," and watch the parade. Before flying home from San Diego, the Reazers should take a final opportunity to commune with the Pacific and go snorkeling at La Jolla Cove, where they'll find fish in every color of the rainbow, along with a seal or two. There's too much to see in a single vacation to the West Coast, and there's no reason the Reazers should try to do it all. If Ben winds up becoming a Cal Golden Bear, the family can always tack on more sightseeing trips when they visit him. How was your trip? In our March issue, we coached Andrea and Richard Farrow on a vacation in Italy. "My husband spoiled me, and we grew much closer on this trip," said Andrea. "One night, wandering Rome's streets, we turned a corner to see the Pantheon all lit up. It was just beautiful. Richard's favorite was Pompeii. He said he could almost see the people living there, going through their daily routines. Cinque Terre was awesome. We stayed an extra night because we couldn't get enough of the views and the people." Surprise! Mina Harker, who claims to have been banished to the U.S. by Count Dracula himself, has offered to give the Reazers a free private version of her San Francisco Vampire Tour. It's a unique tour for a unique family. Lodging Ace Hotel 2423 First Ave., Seattle, 206/448-4721, theacehotel.com, from $75 Cape Disappointment State Park 888/226-7688, parks.wa.gov, $40 Edgefield 2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, Ore., 800/669-8610, mcmenamins.com, family rooms from $150 Cape Lookout State Park Tillamook, Ore., 503/842-4981, oregonstateparks.org, yurts $27 Out'N'About Treesort Cave Junction, Ore., 541/592-2208, treehouses.com, lodging for five from $125 Redwood NP Hostel 800/295-1905, norcalhostels.org, $16 adults, $9 kids HI-Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco, 415/771-7277, sfhostels.com, private rooms from $69 Rancho Oso 3750 Paradise Rd., Santa Barbara, 805/683-5686, rancho-oso.com, wagons from $59 HI-Los Angeles/Santa Monica 1436 2nd St., 310/393-9913, hilosangeles.org, doubles from $62 Food Samoa Cookhouse 79 Cookhouse Ln., Samoa, Calif., 707/442-1659, all-you-can-eat dinner $14 Taquería Cancún 2288 Mission St., San Francisco, 415/252-9560, burrito $4 Truly Mediterranean 3109 16th St., San Francisco, 415/252-7482, chicken shawerma $6.75
9 Rules for Not Embarrassing Yourself in a Foreign Country
We want you to venture overseas feeling as relaxed and confident as possible. Before you head off to Europe and beyond, please look over our handy cheat-sheet for getting up to speed on local customs, attitudes, and expectations. By all means, meet the locals and have great conversations, bearing in mind these simple suggestions. 1. THE WRONG HAND GESTURE CAN GET YOU IN TROUBLE Here in the U.S., you'd never seriously consider flipping the bird to a total stranger, right? (Just roll with this and say "Who me? No, never!") But when traveling abroad it's entirely possible to throw an unintentionally rude gesture at a well-meaning waiter, hotel concierge, or friendly passer-by—if you're not familiar with local customs. Say your waiter in Rio just asked if you enjoyed your steak dinner. Flash him the OK sign (a circle with your thumb and index finger) and—congrats!—you've just insulted him really badly. In the U.K., making a peace sign (or V for victory) with your palm facing inward is the equivalent of the American bird. In Spain, extending your pinkie and index finger from your fist is an insult. 2. KNOW WHEN - AND WHEN NOT - TO TOUCH To touch or not to touch can be baffling overseas. Here in the U.S., we're relatively reserved compared with some European countries when it comes to the violation of personal space during a friendly conversation. But compared with much of Asia and Africa, we can come off as overly huggy. In Italy and France, maintaining eye contact and reaching out and touching the other person during a friendly conversation is considered more polite than standing there with your hands in your pockets staring over someone's shoulder. But in China or Germany, that level of touching will make the other person uncomfortable, and in some cultures, such as Nigeria, maintaining eye contact can be even be perceived as overly bold or threatening. As for public displays of affection, be prepared to reign them in if you're visiting most destinations in Asia and Africa, and keep a low profile wherever you are (perhaps with the exception of Paris) until you have evidence that, say, smooching on the sidewalk is commonplace. 3. MIND YOUR TABLE MANNERS Elbows off the table? Clean your plate like your mother taught you? Not so fast. Food etiquette varies widely from culture to culture and can sometimes appear to have no rhyme or reason. In the Middle East, India, and parts of Africa, keeping your elbows off the table isn't enough—you're not supposed to touch anything at the table with your left hand (it's considered dirty). In France, it's considered more polite to put your slice of bread on the table than to rest it on your plate. Slurp soup in Japan and no one will bat an eye. Slurp soup in China and you'll be the Ugly American. In China, eating rice with chopsticks is expected, but in Thailand it's considered inappropriate (there, you should use a spoon). In Brazil and Chile, don't eat anything with your hands (no, not even fries). In Italy or Cuba, putting your cutlery on the right side of your plate means you're done with the meal. But in Spain, you'd place it on your plate to indicate that you're finished. Clean your plate in Ecuador and you'll be given seconds, but in Peru cleaning your plate is just considered polite. And remember whenever you sit down to eat in a group outside the U.S., there's a good chance you should wait for either the host or the eldest person at the table to start eating before you tuck into what's on your plate. 4. DRINKING CUSTOMS CAN BE COMPLICATED If you ever thought that American rituals and customs surrounding alcohol were a bit arcane (what exactly does "Here's mud in your eye?" mean, anyway?), you'll be relieved to learn that the rest of the convivial world can be just as confusing. When a Russian offers you vodka, the polite thing to do is accept—and drink it down fast. Similarly, you should never refuse sake in Japan (though that hot beverage can be sipped, of course, instead of tossed back). In some countries, including Switzerland, it's rude to start drinking before a toast is offered. And the rituals surrounding which hand (or both) with which to accept a drink, which direction to pass, whose glass you should fill, and other surprisingly important items of cultural dogma should be mastered by consulting a reliable resource such as one of the great books in Dean Allen Foster's Global Etiquette Guide series. Be mindful that in some cultures, alcohol is forbidden—you won't find it served in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. 5. KNOW WHO YOU SHOULD - AND SHOULDN'T - TIP You'd never skip out of an American restaurant without leaving at least 15 percent on the table (well, unless the service was downright awful). But in many other parts of the world, tipping is either built into the bill, culturally frowned upon, or unnecessary because waitstaff are paid a much higher salary than here in the U.S. Don't tip in Japan, Australia, and Brazil. Leave 5 to 10 percent for exceptional service in Italy, France, and Germany. Leave 10 to 15 percent in Egypt, South Africa, Russia, and Hong Kong (but don't tip anywhere else in China). 6. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF BODY LANGUAGE I haven't been to Switzerland yet, but there's one habit I'll have to break before I go: Turns out keeping your hands in your pockets during a conversation is considered rude there. Sound a bit uptight? Head to Turkey, where it's always been refreshingly acceptable for friends of the same sex to hold hands. In some countries, including Peru, it's a no-no to cross your legs at the ankle. In others, like Saudi Arabia, crossing legs at the knee is taboo. You already know that it's common to take off your shoes when entering homes in east Asia, but I'll bet you didn't know that in some cultures, including much of the Arab world, showing the bottoms of your feet or pointing with your feet is rude. 7. DRESS FOR SUCCESS Unless you're headed for Australia or Canada, it's a good idea to dress a bit conservatively whenever you leave the U.S. Cover your legs and arms, and avoid T-shirts with slogans or graphics that could offend strangers. (Traveling with a teen? You may have a difficult time getting him to leave his "Epic Fail" T-shirt at home, but it's worth a try!) 8. AVOID TALKING ABOUT POLITICS "Don't mention the war," may be the only wise words ever uttered by Basil Fawlty, the world's worst innkeeper, portrayed by John Cleese of Monty Python fame in the British sit-com Fawlty Towers: When tourists from the continent visit his inn, Fawlty implores his staff not to bring up WWII. Indeed, when representing the U.S. overseas, you can't go wrong by completely avoiding topics such as: wars, scandals, royals, politics, religion, and diplomatic relations with the U.S. Of course, once you've gotten to know a local or fellow traveler, there's nothing like a late-into-the-night, heart-to-heart cultural exchange—go for it! But among casual acquaintances and strangers, zip it! 9. LEARN BASIC FOREIGN PHRASES We've said it before and we'll say it again: Learning a foreign language's basic phrases such as "Hello," "Goodbye," "Please," "Thank you," "Excuse me," "Where is the bathroom?" and "Do you speak English?" will endear you to the residents of any locale you may visit. It takes only a few minutes to master the magic words that can turn strangers to friends anywhere on earth.
More Places to go
Plano ( PLAY-noh) is a city in Collin County and Denton County, Texas, United States. It had a population of 285,494 at the 2020 census. It is part of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.
McKinney is a city in and the county seat of Collin County, Texas, United States. It is Collin County's second-largest city, after Plano. A suburb of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, McKinney is about 32 miles (51 km) north of Dallas. The U.S. Census Bureau listed McKinney as the nation's fastest-growing city from 2000 to 2003 and again in 2006, among cities with more than 50,000 people. In 2007, it was ranked second-fastest-growing among cities with more than 100,000 people and in 2008 as third-fastest. In the 2010 census, the city's population was 131,117, making it Texas' 19th-most populous city. The most recent population estimate, produced by the city as of 2019, is 199,177, which makes it Texas' 16th most populous city. As of May 2017, McKinney was the third-fastest-growing city in the United States.In 2014, McKinney was rated No. 1 by Money magazine as "Best Place to Live" in America.
Frisco is a city in Collin and Denton counties in the State of Texas. It is part of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex and is about 25 miles (40 km) from both Dallas Love Field and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The city population was 116,989 at the 2010 census, with the 2020 census placing it at a population of 207,748.Frisco was the fastest-growing city in the United States in 2017, and also the fastest-growing city in the nation from 2000 to 2009. In the late 1990s, the northern DFW suburban development tide hit the northern border of Plano and spilled into Frisco, sparking rapid growth into the 2000s. Like many of the cities in the northern suburbs of Dallas, Frisco serves as a bedroom community for professionals who work in DFW. Since 2003, Frisco has received the designation Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Frisco Independent School District, the local school district, is known for exceptional performance among its students.
Richardson is a city in Dallas and Collin counties in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2019 American Community Survey, the city had a total population of 121,323. Richardson is an inner suburb of Dallas. It is home to the University of Texas at Dallas and the Telecom Corridor, with a high concentration of telecommunications companies. More than 5,000 businesses have operations within Richardson's 28 square miles (73 km2), including many of the world's largest telecommunications and networking companies, such as AT&T, Verizon, Cisco Systems, Samsung, ZTE, MetroPCS, Texas Instruments, Qorvo, and Fujitsu. Richardson's largest employment base is provided by the insurance industry, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas's headquarters, a regional hub for GEICO, regional offices for United Healthcare, and one of State Farm Insurance's three national regional hubs located in the community.